Pinterest complicated things, and triggered this in part, by updated their Terms Of Service to make it more clear that they have never, and do not intend to, act as if they owned the images you post there, to make money with them or not.
This has spawned a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by folks who had never considered the idea that the things they were pinning might not be ok to pin.
And I want to state unequivocally IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer), and don’t have the definitive answers to any legal concerns of this nature. So don’t ask.
What I am, however, is an artist. Have my BFA in Photography from Syracuse, where I toiled back when hippies roamed the earth in a program named Experimental Studios (lots of interesting stories about those years, but I digress.) And as an artist, and one who works with art every day, I’m here to tell you, if you put your photos/images online these days, you should be prepared to watermark them in some way or another.
And yes, with Photoshop and some skill, even the best of visible watermarks can be removed. I’ve taken to using Digimarc.com to put a digital watermark in any image I upload to the Internet, as their service allows me to track my watermarked images everywhere they go (mostly.) But I also know that anything I upload has the potential to be taken, so I also make sure my images are not of reproduction quality (low resolution and small in size.) It’s what anyone must do to ensure their work won’t be pirated, and even sometimes that’s not enough (see this HuffPo article about UO and their allegedly sticky fingers.)
It’s a shame artists have to take time to police the ‘net to ensure their work isn’t being stolen, I’m sure we’d all rather be spending our time creating than policing. But it’s the situation as it stands now, and hiding one’s head in the sand won’t change it. I will say, that as a fan of Pinterest myself, I work hard to ensure the things I pin are given full attribution, and I tend to not pin things that are private works, but go more for public things, articles on the ‘net, recipes, artwork out of copyright and so on. Just feels better for me doing it that way.
And for those of you who want to make your blogs or website “No-Pin” zones, see this blog post for instructions on how to do so in several different formats.